I watch fleeing mothers and children, remembering I was once one of them

written by Perri Mahmood, Westminster UNA member

Migration has been happening from the beginning of humankind and will continue. The numbers will rise because of global pandemics, climate change, wars and other conflicts.

We all have the right to look for better lives: whether we have entrepreneurial minds and are looking for places in which to build our prosperity and bring our dreams to reality; or if we want to find freedom from fear and to live in dignity. The latter might occur when we are living in regions of war and conflict or under dictatorships and other suppressive societies’; it might also occur when there is no rule of law, democracy, or human rights.

We live in an unequal world: economically, financially, politically and in opportunities such as education.

To decide to leave your home – especially when this might be permanent and you will have no homeland to go back to – can be very difficult: leaving everything you know and with which you are familiar, to go to an unknown land, culture and life.

When there is a war and conflicts, regions become destabilised. For example, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria war has destabilised entire countries around them. Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon and Jordan have large numbers of refugees – for some, more than one million. This is huge compared to the totals who come to the UK, which is also much richer than those countries.

But unfortunately, Priti Patel’s landmark Nationality and Borders Bill will criminalise entering the UK to claim asylum through unofficial routes. When someone is desperately fleeing persecution or war and crossing half the world on foot or through dangerous waters in unsafe boats in the hope of a better life, should this be a crime? This goes against British values.

In addition, when migrants arrive in the UK and are allowed to enter society to build new lives and interact with their adopted home, there should be a law in place to protect them from any abuse against them and their children, such as in school and in opportunities to work. It should be part of the education curriculum to teach the new generation about good citizenship and kindness to migrants.

Migrants should be perceived as bringing wealth and prosperity to their new country, not as criminals. Migrants are courageous individuals who have risked their lives to change them for the better. The next generation after the initial unwanted generation of migrants is the future generation of this society. So it is so important to invest in their well-being.

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